Sunday, January 21, 2024

We Know in Part (1 Cor. 13:8)

This morning I loved being in 1 Cor. 13.

I decided to memorize verse 9:

What a vivid reminder of the incomplete nature of knowledge! I don't care how high you rise in life or how many degrees you earn. Our knowledge is so "bruchst├╝ckhaft" -- so fragmentary! See those words ek merous? They mean "in part." Would it help to have a concrete example? That would be me. I have literally dozens of books about Greek on my shelves, but have I mastered the subject? 

The exact opposite is true! I feel like I am at the starting point, not the finishing point. As the NBV puts is, "Sabemos muy poco y profetizamos imperfectamente." The BLPH says, "Nuestro saber es limitado." The LB has, "Now we know so little, even with our special gifts, and the preaching of those most gifted is still so poor." Finally, I love how The Message puts it:

We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. 

Again, look at the expression ek merous. Let it say exactly what it says. Don't soften its meaning. Don't try to remove its edginess. Above all, don't ignore it. I've never known a time in my 48 years of teaching when I've been more convinced about what I don't know than what I do know. I am more convinced than ever that both my knowledge and my instruction are only partial. I think this helps me get a better grasp of what Paul meant when he said that leaders must be "teachable" (1 Tim. 3:2, ISV). Remember, Paul is writing to believers in the city of Corinth. Corinth was a city that rated the mind very highly. By Paul's day it had replaced Athens as the intellectual center of Greece. Yet as Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:29, a true teacher is never authoritarian or unteachable. For a prophet, he says, humility is a mark of authenticity. And the church must be obedient to sifting and assessing what is offered.

I'd much rather teach students how to think than what to think. That's why I still love teaching Greek so much. But Greek is no Open Sesame or Abracadabra when it comes to knowing God. It's a never-ending process. The same Scriptures that can lead a child to faith in Christ are also inexhaustible enough to take people who've been Christians for decades deeper and deeper into their walk with God as adults. 

Friend, I urge you to value God's word. Study all of it. Follow it tenaciously. View all of the Bible as equally inspired. But never become so thick-headed as to think that you've arrived. To the contrary, let your imperfect knowledge of the Scriptures be something that spurs you on to greater devotion to God and his word than ever before.